This is the fifth in the series of blogs about the building blocks of personal resilience of staff to ensure that your organisational change sticks and benefits are realised.

Following the research, models, principles and steps of personal resilience were identified. The first four of these principles are explained:


1. Connect to your purpose and meaning in life: a strong sense of purpose and meaning is the bedrock on which coping, healing and renewal after adversity is made possible. This principle of building personal resilience concerns the issue of why some are able to persevere when things get really tough rather than just giving up. People in our study described finding purpose, connection and meaning beyond themselves in areas of their lives concerning significant people, causes and faith.



2. Use your unique strengths: self-knowledge, and in particular realistic self insight into one’s own character strengths and vulnerabilities, forms the basis of the second principle. Most people are very aware of their weaknesses, and this is enhanced by organisational processes which focus on “performance gaps” and “personal vulnerabilities”. In order to balance this emphasis on weaknesses, an emphasis on understanding and using character strengths is necessary to build resilience. The people in our study gave powerful examples of using their natural character strengths to cope with adversity, recover and even become stronger.


3. Maintain perspective: perspective is important during adversity as we are programmed from our past with a survival instinct that focuses on and makes us more alert for the negative than the positive. This evolutionary bias does not serve us well in the modern world if persistent and negative thoughts intrude into our lives, variously described by our study participants as a “negative radio talk station” and “my mother in my head”. This negative focus is exacerbated when accompanied by a tense focus on narrow details, which is very different from the more useful open, creative and flexible thinking required to effectively cope with today’s adversities.


4. Generate positive feelings: whilst negative feelings are not bad in themselves, they do have the potential to overwhelm and incapacitate at the very times we need to have our wits about us. In addition, prolonged and intense negative feelings can lead to an oversupply of adrenaline and cortisol, which can be very harmful to our bodies. Generating genuine positive feelings, even in tough times, is an effective way of restoring balance in one’s life and eventually bouncing back from adversity.

The next and final blog in the series will cover the remaining 3 principles of building personal resilience.